Fifty-Two Members and Associates of San Bernardino Street Gang Targeted in Federal Drug Trafficking Indictment
RIVERSIDE, CA—After a federal grand jury issued a 90-page indictment, federal and state authorities today arrested 21 of 52 defendants linked to San Bernardino’s largest gang on narcotics-trafficking charges that allege numerous transactions involving methamphetamine and heroin.
The indictment, which was unsealed this morning, targets members and associates of the West Side Verdugo gang, who are charged with trafficking methamphetamine and heroin in San Bernardino and various California prisons, where members of the gang and gang affiliates linked to the Mexican Mafia are incarcerated. The indictment outlines how some of the proceeds generated by narcotic sales were funneled to members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang.
All 52 defendants named in the indictment are charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. Seven of the defendants are also charged in drug distribution counts involving methamphetamine and heroin.
The conspiracy count in the indictment details hundreds of “overt acts” that begin in the summer of 2010 and continue into 2012. The overt acts describe numerous drug deals, the smuggling of drugs into state prison facilities and seizures of drugs by law enforcement that in one case was well over one-half pound of methamphetamine.
In addition to the sale of narcotics, the indictment alleges that members of West Side Verdugo collected “taxes” from drug dealers who were allowed to operate in gang territory—for example, the 7th Street Park—in exchange for sharing some of the drug proceeds with the gang.
The 21 defendants taken into custody today are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.
The conspiracy count in the indictment, which charges all 52 defendants, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
In addition to the 21 people arrested today, 22 were already in custody on unrelated charges. Authorities are continuing to look for 8 people who are charged in the indictment and a summons will be issued for one defendant.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, the San Bernardino Police Department and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office provided substantial assistance.
Personnel from a number of law enforcement agencies assisted during today’s operation, including the San Bernardino Department of Probation; the Los Angeles Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the California Highway Patrol; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.